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beware of UNION PRODUCTIONS


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#1 Kelly Jones

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Posted 13 April 2006 - 04:14 PM

On March 3 of 2006, we shot varicam interviews of Samuel L Jackson, Herbie Hancock, Lou Gosset JR and Kareem Abdul Jabbar for a project titled "On the Shoulders of Giants" The Production company was called Union Productions. That name may be changed by the time they go back into production. The Producer is Deborah Morales with Iconomy. This is a documentery about basketball, jazz and the Harlem Renaissance. This is a pet project of Kareem Abdul Jabbar's.
If you are contacted by them for work get your money up front.
Our invoices have still not been paid by Deborah Morales and she has not returned our phonecalls. It is our sincere belief that she does not intend to pay us for our labor or our equiptment rentals. We plan to seek legal action against Union Productions, Deborah and Kareem.
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#2 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 13 April 2006 - 07:28 PM

Thanks for posting that. It's always good to have this kind of info. It might help if you told us where they were shooting so that those of us in that area could watch out.
Also, you could make the same post here.
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#3 Kelly Jones

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Posted 13 April 2006 - 08:04 PM

Thanks for posting that. It's always good to have this kind of info. It might help if you told us where they were shooting so that those of us in that area could watch out.
Also, you could make the same post here.



Thanks for posting that. It's always good to have this kind of info. It might help if you told us where they were shooting so that those of us in that area could watch out.
Also, you could make the same post here.


Thanks for the link. That site is genius.

We shot in Los Angeles, but they may be planning to shoot in Chicago as well. Iconomy is based in Long Beach.
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#4 Richard Boddington

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Posted 13 April 2006 - 10:33 PM

Geez that Hollywood bastards site is really quite hilarious!

From reading a few of those it sounds like a lot of those people got what they deserved by not getting any down payments for work, checking references, or using common sense.

That site is lawsuits waiting to happen for defamation cases. I notice a lot of the posters do not give their names.

R,
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#5 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 14 April 2006 - 03:13 PM

When working with a new client it can be difficult because both sides want to be cautious.

The way I thought it was supposed to work is either you get a down payment before the shoot day (this establishes that the production company can actually generate company checks), OR, when the day's shoot is done, the production company hands you a check as you are simultaneously handing them the days video, OR, if the production company owns all the gear and you were strictly for hire, then they definitely should be paying at the end of the production day.

If it's a two or three day gig, hold the video until the check is given. if they want the video at the end of each day, it seems to me they should be generating a check either each day or at the very least, after the first day and then every other day, unless it's a feature film with multiple shoot days.

When you look back at what happened, was their a sign that it was going to be difficult to get paid that you sort of ignored in the excitement of the shoot?

If you paid for the video stock and they now have that stock in their possession, you still own the footage since you paid for the stock and it's important to remind them of this. A good old fashioned snail mail letter is something I would have done before posting on a website about what happened because even though the situation is unacceptable, you can't be sure you're truly being ripped off until you send a letter to them asking for payment and immediate communication.
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#6 Kelly Jones

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Posted 14 April 2006 - 06:04 PM

I was hired by a producer friend that I work with a lot and trust. She had been hired by Deborah months earlier and had been paid for her preproduction. We had no reason to suspect that Deborah was not going to pay us. In fact the producer that hired me also hired her son to mix the audio. She would not have brought any of us on if she had suspected we would not get paid. She is no longer employed by Deborah and her attempts to get us paid have been met with hostility.

I have posted this information as warning to my fellow DP's. If you are contacted by this company, and chose to work on this project, take steps to ensure that you are paid in a reasonable amount of time.

As a long term member of the film community, I think shareing negative experiences allows us all to protect ourselves and make our morgage payments on time.
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#7 Tim Tyler

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Posted 14 April 2006 - 11:39 PM

So it's been just 40 days or so since you invoiced them?

I usually mail a statement (and send an email or phone call) if I haven't been paid in that amount of time, but I don't get worried until it's been 60 days.

> her attempts to get us paid have been met with hostility.

What kind of hostility?
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#8 Frank Barrera

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Posted 15 April 2006 - 06:31 PM

My understanding is that (at least in NY State) as an independent contractor and with out a contract/deal memo we have no legal recourse until AFTER 90 days unpaid. On short term gigs I never get a deal memo. I just have to trust the company. So far I've only had one time when I had to call and harrass a producer and threaten him with small claims court. ANd that was after 6 months. I won't bother giving their name because they just went belly up a couple of months ago.


FB
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#9 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 15 April 2006 - 11:31 PM

That site is lawsuits waiting to happen for defamation cases. I notice a lot of the posters do not give their names.

R,

The whole point is for it to be anonymous so that people will speak up when these types of things happen to them.
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#10 Richard Boddington

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Posted 15 April 2006 - 11:43 PM

"The whole point is for it to be anonymous so that people will speak up when these types of things happen to them."

Perfect! Now I can make that post about a particular steady cam operator in LA :)

R,
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#11 K Borowski

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Posted 16 April 2006 - 02:10 AM

Perfect! Now I can make that post about a particular steady cam operator in LA :)

R,


It's one thing defaming the good name of an honest working man. It's another thing calling out a cheating, lying SOB. My understanding is that it isn't defamation of character if it's the TRUTH. I hate all this legal BS that people keep using as an excuse to keep their mouths shut and let con-artists prey on still further victims. It is never a bad thing to let others know who these con-artists are.

Regards.

~Karl Borowski
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#12 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 16 April 2006 - 03:22 AM

So it's been just 40 days or so since you invoiced them?

I usually mail a statement (and send an email or phone call) if I haven't been paid in that amount of time, but I don't get worried until it's been 60 days.


It might be useful to categorize the kinds of jobs that get paid right away versus those that take up to 60 days.

The biggest corporatioins get to take longer to pay, that is pretty much a given. But even in those circumstances they can, if asked ahead of time, provide a partial up front payment, especially if the DP is hiring their own crew. It's one thing to be patient about our own payment, but the P.A., Grips, or Sound crew should not have to wait as long, getting half upfront might cover the rest of the crew expenses so that they don't have to be left hanging too long.

Sometimes there is a trade off, if the client is paying as the shoot goes along, they also get a healthy discount. The companies that take 30-60 days should be paying the going rate at the minimum and overtime if the shoot went over, discounts get discounted when payment is not going to be made for 30-60 days.

Start up companies should always expect to pay as they go. If they can't even afford to pay as they go when starting out, then they're already behind and why did they even bother starting their own company?
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#13 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 16 April 2006 - 04:06 AM

"The whole point is for it to be anonymous so that people will speak up when these types of things happen to them."

Perfect! Now I can make that post about a particular steady cam operator in LA :)

R,

Eh.....go ahead. I've had worse said about me before.
But seriously, I do think that it's important that people speak out about these producers that are constantly screwing people. This type of thing happens too often. And in this business all we have is our reputation and our hard work, and we have to trust people we don't know all the time. People pray on the fact that this business is run on trust and abuse it all the time. As crew, whether union or not, all we have is each other to protect ourselves from people that would screw us at any givin opportunity. Sure, some people have agents, but most don't, and they need other people to speak up. I've been screwed enough times that I would never wish it on someone else.
We, as skilled professionals, work too hard to be constantly burned by people who have never done a real days work in their lives, but make a living off the fruits of our labor, and we should all speak out when it happens to us so that we can spare someone else the same pain in the future.
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